Kevin Slowey Rumors

Quick Hits: Ruth, Slowey, Nix, Cuba

Babe Ruth pioneered many things in baseball, of course, and one lesser-known among them came in the insurance arena, as Richard Sandomir writes for the New York Times. Before the 1920 campaign, Ruth took out a disability policy of the kind that is now standard for players looking to protect themselves from injury or illness.

Here are some more stray notes from around the game:

  • 31-year-old righty Kevin Slowey has joined the MLBPA as a special assistant, per a press release. He’ll assist in the union’s preparations for the coming collective bargaining negotiations. Slowey, who spent the spring in Phillies camp, has appeared in the big leagues with the Twins and Marlins. All said, he compiled 662 innings of 4.62 ERA pitching, striking out 6.7 and walking 1.5 batters per nine along the way.
  • Bob Nightengale of USA Today spoke with Jacob Nix, the righty who saw his deal with the Astros fall through last year as part of the Brady Aiken fallout. Nix explains that he has tried to stay positive, but did not sugarcoat the difficulties he faced. “Last year pretty much sucked,” said Nix. “I was literally in the wrong place and the wrong time. It was a bad situation. The whole year was pretty difficult for myself and for my family.” Houston ultimately offered Nix a $620K bonus after pulling back the $1.5MM deal that had been struck, says Nightengale, but he declined. Nix was set to attend UCLA — even driving out to the campus — but ultimately ended up at the IMG Academy as eligibility issues loomed due to the NCAA’s rules (which are, in my view, remarkably unfair). While winning a grievance against the Astros that “paid him a fraction of his original signing bonus,” Nix says he also pushed his development on the mound and is now a much more complete pitcher entering this year’s draft. The whole piece is well worth a read and comes highly recommended.
  • Exhibition baseball is likely heading to Cuba next year, as commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters yesterday, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). The expectation is that clubs chosen by the league will head to the neighboring island during Spring Training.

Phillies Release Kevin Slowey

The Phillies have announced the release of right-hander Kevin Slowey. The 30-year-old was in camp on a minor league deal.

Last year, Slowey threw 37 1/3 frames for the Marlins, working to a 5.30 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. But his peripherals support some reason to believe there’s a reasonably productive arm to be had, as Slowey has averaged sub-4.00 FIP marks over 129 1/3 total innings in the last two seasons.

Slowey had good numbers this spring, allowing four earned over 9 2/3 while striking out seven and walking two. But it appears that he has lost the fifth starter’s battle to Sean O’Sullivan. Of course, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News notes on Twitter, the club figures to take a look at the arms that depart other organizations over the coming days.


Minor Moves: Petit, Twins, Phillies

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • After being outrighted recently by the Astros, shortstop Gregorio Petit cleared waivers, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Petit will have an opportunity to elect free agency, as he has previously been outrighted.
  • The Twins have announced the signings of first baseman Brock Peterson and catcher Dan Rohlfing to minor league deals (via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger). Peterson, 31, has never had a full chance at the big leagues, though he did have a brief stint with the Cardinals in 2013. He has strong overall batting numbers in the high minors. The St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino first reported Peterson’s signing a few days ago. The 25-year-old Rohlfing, meanwhile, has not yet cracked the bigs and has also never ended a professional season above the .700 OPS threshold. But he has done enough to keep moving up the ladder, and will stay with the only organization he has played for.
  • Per an announcement by the Phillies, MiLB deals have been reached with first baseman Chris McGuiness and righties Sean O’Sullivan and Kevin Slowey. All three receive invites to big league camp. The 26-year-old McGuiness has only minimal time at the MLB level and slashed .264/.358/.412 in 489 Triple-A plate appearances last year. O’Sullivan, 27, and Slowey, 30, each have fairly significant major league track records and could compete for a pen slot or even the fifth starter’s role in Philadelphia.


Minor Moves: Whiteside, Texeira, Slowey, Bell, Schlereth

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves from around the league right here…

  • Cubs backstop Eli Whiteside has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old, who saw only minimal action with the Cubs, was designated for assignment on Sunday.
  • The Braves have inked righty Kanekoa Texeira to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. The 28-year-old, who last threw in the bigs in 2011 with the Royals, threw effectively over each of the last two seasons at Triple-A with the Reds. He had been pitching for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish in 2014 before joining Atlanta.
  • Righty Kevin Slowey has been released by the Marlins, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter). Slowey owned a 5.30 ERA through 37 1/3 innings this year, most of which came in relief. He had been a starter for much of his prior time as a big leaguer, and owns a 4.62 ERA over 662 career MLB frames.
  • The Yankees have released reliever Heath Bell, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). Bell, who recently signed a minor league deal, had a 7.50 ERA in five appearances at Triple-A Scranton. In 17 1/3 frames at the major league level with the Rays this year, Bell threw to a 7.27 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
  • The Tigers have acquired southpaw Daniel Schlereth from the Pirates, reports John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. James Schmel of MLive.com tweets that the Pirates will receive cash considerations. This will be Schlereth’s second stint with the Tigers, as he spent the 2010-12 seasons in Detroit’s bullpen after coming over in the three-team Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson blockbuster. Schlereth’s long-standing control problems have been very apparent this season at Triple-A; he’s walked 18 batters and surrendered 18 hits in 18 2/3 innings en route to a 7.23 ERA. On the plus side, he’s also fanned 18 hitters in that time.

Marlins Promote Heaney; Slowey, Wolf Designated For Assignment

The Marlins announced that they have designated right-hander Kevin Slowey and left-hander Randy Wolf for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. Additionally, Christian Yelich and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been placed on the 15-day DL, and Donovan Solano has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Miami will recall right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and first baseman Justin Bour. Most notably, top prospect Andrew Heaney will also be promoted to the Majors for the first time.

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins

Heaney (pictured) was the ninth overall selection in the 2012 draft and entered the season ranked as the game’s No. 30 prospect according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. MLB.com ranked the 23-year-old as the game’s No. 29 prospect, and ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him 34th entering the season.

Heaney has shredded minor league hitters this season, pitching to a 2.47 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. Should he remain with the team through season’s end, he would accrue 106 days of Major League service time, meaning that he should fall well shy of Super Two status.

The former Oklahoma State ace has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph regularly, per Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. That plus heater is accompanied by a “wipeout” slider that Mayo and Callis grade as Heaney’s best pitch, as well as a changeup that the duo describes as a “good third pitch.” BA’s scouting reports notes that his fastball can reach 97 mph when he needs the heat, but Heaney has learned that he pitches with better command when throwing in the 91 to 93 mph range. BA also noted that holding runners has been a weakness for Heaney dating back to college (19 of 20 attempted base-stealers were successful against him in 2013), but he’s allowed just six steals in nine attempts in 2014.

The 37-year-old Wolf signed a Major League deal with the Marlins in May after opting out of his minor league deal with the Diamondbacks. He posted a 5.26 ERA with a strong 19-to-6 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings with the Fish, and his 87.7 mph fastball velocity wasn’t too far off his career mark of 88.2 mph. Wolf’s stint with the Marlins was his first Major League work since late 2012, as he missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (4.33), xFIP (3.87) and SIERA (3.99) all feel that he was the victim of some poor luck.

Slowey, 30, posted similar numbers to Wolf, compiling a 5.30 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings. He, too, was the victim of a very lofty batting average on balls in play (.382), which no doubt contributed to his lofty ERA. Slowey has always been a soft-tossing fly-ball pitcher, but he has excellent command and a respectable 4.62 ERA in 662 career innings with the Twins and Marlins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Marlins Designate Brady, Bogusevic For Assignment

The Marlins have announced on Twitter they have designated right-hander Michael Brady and outfielder Brian Bogusevic for assignment. The team also announced they have purchased the contracts of outfielder Reed Johnson and right-hander Kevin Slowey.

Bogusevic, who is not yet arbitration eligible, was acquired from the Cubs last December for Justin Ruggiano. The 30-year-old slashed .273/.323/.462 in 155 plate appearances last year, but has a career line of .236/.313/.370 in 773 plate appearances. 

Brady, a 24th-round selection of the Marlins in the 2009 amateur draft, spent last season at Double-A Jacksonville making 49 trips out of the bullpen good for a 1.53 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9 in 53 innings.

Johnson and Slowey both signed minor league deals with the Marlins in January. With the Braves, Johnson struggled to a .244/.311/.341 line in just 136 plate appearances, leading the club to decline his $1.6MM option and instead pay him a $150K buyout. He was much better over the previous two seasons, however, combining to log 554 plate appearances while slashing .299/.342/.431. Slowey threw 92 1/3 innings for the Miami in 2013 and posted a 4.11 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and a 28.7% ground-ball rate in 20 games (including 14 starts). 


Marlins Re-Sign Kevin Slowey

The Marlins have re-signed right-hander Kevin Slowey to a minor league deal, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy (on Twitter). Slowey is a client of Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX).

The 29-year-old Slowey pitched 92 1/3 innings for the Marlins in 2013, posting a 4.11 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a minuscule 28.7 percent ground-ball rate. Slowey has always been an extreme fly-ball pitcher but has long boasted elite command as well, as evidenced by his career 1.5 BB/9 rate. Last season marked his first big league action in a uniform other than that of the Minnesota Twins, who selected him out of Winthrop University in the second round of the 2005 draft.

Slowey will face an uphill battle to earn another rotation spot in Miami, as Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner all figure to be locks. He will have competition in the form of Tom Koehler and Brian Flynn, with top prospects such as Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino not far behind.

Eddy also reports that Miami signed right-hander Craig Westcott and lefty Jose Gonzalez. The 27-year-old Westcott posted a 4.19 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 144 innings for the Giants' Double-A affiliate in 2013. Gonzalez, 23, posted a 5.17 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 54 innings of relief across High-A and Double-A with the Twins last season and yielded a .276/.364/.442 batting line to his opponents.


Minor Moves: Slowey, Rapada, Orioles, Marlins

Here are today's minor moves and outrights from around the league…

  • In addition to the names mentioned below, the Marlins announced that they outrighted right-hander Kevin Slowey, lefty Zach Phillips and catcher Koyie Hill. Of this most recent trio, Slowey is the most notable. The former Twin and Indian hurled 92 1/3 innings of 4.11 ERA ball with 7.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. The 29-year-old's 28.7 percent ground-ball rate makes him among the game's most extreme fly-ball pitchers. Slowey projected to earn $1.8MM via arbitration this offseason, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Phillips, 26, posted a strong 2.44 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 59 Triple-A innings this season. Hill, 34, hit .155/.183/.190 in 61 plate appearances for the Fish. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted that both Slowey and Hill were non-tender candidates last week.
  • The Indians outrighted lefty Clay Rapada today after he was designated for assignment last week, the team announced. Rapada, 32, pitched to a 1.12 ERA with 20 strikeouts and nine walks in 24 innings at Triple-A Columbus while in the Cleveland organization. He held lefties to a .188/.240/.261 batting line in the minors this season.
  • The Orioles have re-signed two of their minor league free agents, right-hander Marcel Prado and infielder/outfielder Garabez Rosa, according to Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). Prado, 25, was sharp was sharp in 56 2/3 innings between High-A add Double-A, posting a 2.38 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Rosa's numbers were less impressive, as the 23-year-old batted .276/.291/.374 with six homers in 477 plate appearances.
  • The Marlins have outrighted right-handers Steve Ames and Jose Ceda, first baseman Joe Mahoney, infielder Gil Velazquez Triple-A New Orleans, according to the team's transactions page. The 25-year-old Ames was one of three pitchers the Fish acquired from the Dodgers for Ricky Nolasco and the second who was waived since season's end (the Angels claimed Josh Wall last week). The 25-year-old allowed two runs in four big league innings and posted a 3.69 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 46 1/3 Triple-A innings this season. Ceda pitched just four minor league innings in an injury-plagues season. Mahoney hit .190/.200/.262 in 200 Triple-A plate appearances. The 33-year-old Velazquez hit .254/.350/.278 in 392 Triple-A plate appearances between the Yankees and Marlins.
  • As can be seen in MLBTR's DFA TrackerVictor Marte of the Cardinals is the only player that is currently in DFA limbo.

Trade Candidate: Kevin Slowey

It's never fun to punt a season, as the Marlins decided to do before the 2013 campaign began.  But one silver lining is the ability to offer more opportunity to minor league free agents.  29-year-old righty Kevin Slowey is one such example, and he's rewarded the team with a 1.81 ERA through seven starts after joining the organization on a minor league deal.  He was a contributing member of the Twins' rotation as recently as 2010 despite missing time with an elbow and triceps injury, but then things took a turn.

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Slowey failed to make the Twins' rotation out of camp in 2011, and then quickly hit the DL with a shoulder strain.  After returning from that, he missed time with an abdomen strain, expressed displeasure with working as a reliever, and pitched in the minors before finally rejoining the rotation in August of that year.  With a non-tender looming, Slowey was shipped to Colorado during the offseason, and then traded to the Indians shortly thereafter.  He was unable to crack the Indians rotation out of camp in 2012, and missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his rib cage.  He was removed from the Indians' 40-man roster in October, pitched in the Dominican Winter League, and signed a minor league deal with the Marlins in January of this year.  This time Slowey did win a rotation spot out of Spring Training, which was further solidified with injuries to Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi.

After seven starts this year, Slowey ranks sixth in the National League with a 1.81 ERA.  His control has always been stellar, leading to a seventh-ranked 4.5 K/BB ratio so far.  Though he's never averaged six innings per start in a season, Slowey is at nearly 6.4 this year.  Aside from his injury history, the biggest concern with Slowey is his flyball tendency.  His 32.3% groundball rate is the fourth-lowest in all of baseball, and he's benefited from one of the least homer-happy ballparks in the game (though he's pitched well in all three starts on the road).

The Marlins are playing .300 baseball, so why shouldn't they move Slowey?  One reason is that he'll be arbitration eligible after this season, and therefore under team control for 2014.  Given his $750K salary – barely above the league minimum – trading Slowey now would not be a cost-cutting move.  It'd simply be a way of cashing in a 29-year-old off to a hot start for at least one credible prospect.  Slowey has his flaws, but he'd fit well with teams like the Giants or Pirates come the July trade deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Marlins Sign Kevin Slowey, Mitch Talbot

We'll track the day's minor moves right here…

  • The Marlins signed Kevin Slowey to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, writes Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald. The 28-year-old right-hander was limited to eight minor league starts in 2012 thanks to a stress fracture in his rib cage. Slowey enjoyed success prior to his injury as a member of the Twins' rotation from 2008-2010. Over the course of his five season tenure with the team, Slowey posted a 4.66 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9.
  • Miami also struck a deal with Mitch Talbot, who received a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, says Spencer. Talbot, 29, returns stateside after spending the 2012 season pitching for the Samsung Lions where he posted a 3.97 ERA over 138 innings. The right-hander last pitched in the big leagues in 2011 where he struggled with his H/9 (12.7) along with giving up home runs in limited innings.